It's been rumored for weeks that media giant Viacom has attempted to buy The Onion, the satirical newspaper and Web site. The Onion has denied that any negotiations have taken place, but our spies know the true story. There WAS a small (two people from each 'side') Viacom-Onion meeting in New York at the offices of The Onion, but not a lot was accomplished. Here's what happened.
The sixty-something head rep from Viacom began the meeting with a long description of the Viacom "family." His speech was so boring, even his twenty-something assistant was nodding off. The two Onion guys remained alert, however, because as each additional Viacom 'property' was mentioned, they saw their pool of possible future stories getting smaller and smaller. As one of them confided later to a friend, "Hey, after you rule out the CBS network, MTV, Infinity broadcasting, Simon & Schuster, Blockbuster, Paramount Pictures, Showtime, etc., etc., etc., what's left to satirize? I mean Viacom practically owns the world."
Things really came to a head when the head Viacom rep suggested that, after the buyout, "The Onion" could be re-named "The Viaconion." At that point, one of the Onion execs reached under the table and pressed a small button. There was then a knock at the door and a man (pictured here) wearing a bag over his head entered the room and took a seat at the table.
The 'bag' man then gave a beautiful baritone rendition of "I'm a Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch." It was a jaw-dropping moment for the Viacom reps, but the singer's voice was so unique and compelling, they stayed for the entire performance. However, when the last words ("Won't you come and play with me") rang out, the head Viacom rep banged his attaché case shut and said he had another appointment. With his assistant, he stormed out of the meeting.
Downstairs in the Viacom limo, the sixty-something rep rubbed his face and said to his young assistant, "What a waste of time. And they didn't even say anything funny. Not one single thing. And then that guy with the paper bag on his head. What WERE they thinking?"
"I know, I know," his eager young assistant responded. "It should have been a woman singing that petunia song, right? And the two holes in the paper bag, why were they different sizes? I couldn't figure it out."
The older guy just stared in disbelief. Then he exploded. "Good grief," he shrieked. "You're as crazy as that Onion crowd. They're a bunch of nuts, and now they've converted you."
Meanwhile, back at The Onion, the 'nuts' were having a post-meeting conference. They had just paid Sam the street singer his $500 fee, after removing the bag from his head, thanking him for his services, and sending him back downstairs.
One of the executives smiled and said to the other. "It worked perfectly."
"Right," the other one answered. "We've bought ourselves some time. After all, we're certainly not ready to say YES." He paused for a moment. "Or NO."
Stay tuned for further developments.